The MCU soldiers on in this entry, the first solo outing for the webslinger in the MCU, after making his long-awaited debut in the franchise in Captain America: Civil War, we’re nine years on from the start of the MCU and the quality hasn’t seemed to drop in the last few years, so let’s get down to it.
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker is balancing his life at home and school, and his life as Spider-Man, constantly waiting for the call of Tony Stark for his next assignment, meanwhile killing time by stopping petty criminals and helping little ladies across the street.
Meanwhile, a new threat has emerged as a weapons trader dons a strong wingsuit and becomes a thorn in Spider-Man’s side as he attempts to stop this new threat against the advice of Tony Stark, who doesn’t think he’s ready.
While balancing this, he juggles his school life, around which is his friendship with Ned, a tech proficient student and eventual aid to Peter’s alter ego and his love for Liz, a popular classmate.
First off, let me state that I adored this film while I was watching, and still think it’s pretty great afterwards, I’m saying this now to counter-balance the criticism I will level at it. Tom Holland might just have been born to be Spider-Man, and builds upon his well-received debut in Civil War with aplomb, he’s such a natural in the suit and out of it that it almost makes you forget that he is the third man to don the costume in 15 years.
Elsewhere in the cast, Michael Keaton shines as the wing-suited villain The Vulture/Adrian Toomes and is a rare villain in that you can sometimes sympathise with his struggles and from a certain angle it almost seems like he is justified, making him a more complex villain than most we’ve seen in the MCU. Also, Jacob Batalon gives a stellar performance as Ned, who becomes Spidey’s ‘man in the chair’ and has just enough charisma to make the characters ‘nerdiness’ not overbearing, keeping him well in the likeable category.
Now for the not so nice stuff, firstly Tony Stark comes off as a real jerk in this movie in most of his scenes, coming off as unappreciative of Peter’s help during the events of Civil War, becoming almost like an overbearing asshole dad, especially in a scene where he takes Spidey’s suit where you just want Spidey to sucker-punch Tony, overall it comes off as very disingenuous and seems like writers struggling to create tension chose to make Tony an asshole.
I also never bought for a minute that Peter was the nerd and outcast he was made out to be, firstly because he’s without a doubt the best looking of the male classmates, enough to turn the heads of the movies female characters in fact, also add the fact that he has a body to die for, he’s not someone you could see the Jock’s picking on too often, seeing as he’s in better shape. I get that in the comics he was portrayed as this, but when you look at it logically, there’s no way someone who looks like Peter looks like here would be an outcast, it just doesn’t ring true.
Finally, and this is really nitpicky, and I suspect more down to ego than the movie’s doing, but it annoyed the hell out of me and that’s that Gwyneth Paltrow gets fourth or fifth billing at the end of the movie, despite having approximately five lines and appearing in exactly one scene. It really rankled me because the supporting cast worked so hard in fleshing out the film’s world, yet here they get credited below someone who was as significant to the film as a fly that might have landed on the camera, she added nothing and quite easily could have been cut, and her high billing just smacks of over-inflated egos.
After all that criticism though, I can’t get past the fact that I really enjoyed this movie, it isn’t my favourite of the MCU, or my favourite Spider-Man movie, but it’s a hell of an effort from Tom Holland especially, if his upwards trajectory continues, we could have the best Spider-Man on our hands, and most definitely a very welcome addition to the MCU.